UAE residents speak out against US' biased travel ban

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Etihad Airways continues to accept nationals with valid travel documentation
Etihad Airways continues to accept nationals with valid travel documentation

Those who already hold valid visas are not affected.

By Kelly Clarke

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Published: Fri 30 Jun 2017, 11:35 PM

The US has announced a set of new criteria for visa applicants from six mainly Muslim nations, and UAE residents who have been directly impacted by the restrictions have been speaking out.
The Trump administration's new position on visa rules now means those travelling to the country require close family or business ties to the United States. The new rules affect people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
Only once applicants have fulfilled these requirements will they be admitted to the United States under the guidance distributed by the US State Department. Those who already hold valid visas are not affected.
But Sharjah-based Sudanese resident, Anas Agariv, is not happy with the decision.
"This new position on visa rules will affect all people from these countries in different ways. Blocking certain people from entry is not the answer. You cannot tar everyone with the same brush," he told Khaleej Times.
If you have been flagged as a security risk or have had past investigations or convictions regarding security issues against your name, Anas said visa restraints should be put in place.
"But you can't restrict everyone, just because of their nationality."
Even his own daughter has US citizenship (though she is now studying in Dubai), he said. However, he fears he will be rejected if he tries to submit a visa request to the US.
"At the moment, we have cousins and a brother-in-law in the US but I guess they will not be deemed 'close relatives', which means we may be refused entry if we want to travel there."
In the past 10 years, Anas has travelled to the US about three times, and he said he has always abided by the rules. "Is that not enough proof for them that I am a worthy traveller?" he said.
The United States also announced new security measures for inbound flights that are designed to prevent expanding the in-cabin ban on laptops.
For Syrian shop owner A.A., the past six months (since President Donald Trump's inauguration) has left a sour taste in his mouth with regards to the US.
So much so that he has lost all interest in looking to travel there.
"I hate to talk politics, but I do not agree with any of these new rules. It won't affect me though because I will not travel to the US again. I'm not interested in the country anymore," he said.
And Iranian expatriate Farhad Katrahmani agreed, yet said he feels torn as he has family all over the US.
"I have relatives, including cousins, and very close friends in the States. Now hopes of going to visit them have been thrown into darkness because of these new rules. However, I'm not that keen on travelling to the country anyway."
He said he'd rather look to travel to alternative destinations that will welcome him with open arms. But he does feel empathy for his fellow countrymen with ties to the US.
"This new decision will affect people from my country. Many people go there for holidays, sport, and many for medical procedures, but now this obstacle has been put in place. In 2017, I think it is ridiculous and I don't agree with it." 
Flights operating as normal
Emirates - which flies to 12 US cities - said its flights to the United States were "operating as per normal" after US officials announced new restrictions on travel.
"Our flights to the US are operating as per normal. All passengers must possess the appropriate travel documents, including a valid US entry visa, in order to travel. Emirates remains guided by the US Customs and Border Protection on this matter," an Emirates spokeswoman said in a statement.
Etihad Airways continues to accept nationals with valid travel documentation from the six listed countries, a spokesman said in a statement. "Acceptance, as per standard procedure, is subject to checks completed by US authorities at the preclearance facility at Abu Dhabi airport."

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